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Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has expressed concern over the seizure of copies of the publications of four national dailies – the Nation, Guardian, Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers by security agents.
President of NUJ, Malam Mohammed Garba, stated the union’s position at a news conference in Abuja on Saturday.
He said that the media was an important stakeholder in the ongoing campaign against insurgency in parts of the country and wondered why it would come under attack from security personnel.
Garba condemned the seizure of the newspapers’ publications, saying that it was not the best way to handle it if there were any issues.
“We have gone through a presentation by the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, and we feel that the action of the military was unjustifiable.
“We feel that if there was anything that constituted a security threat and was going to pass through any media organisation, the management of such media organisation should have been notified for the necessary adjustment and correction, rather than total seizure of its publications.
“Unfortunately, this action continued till today and I feel that we must condemn this act,’’ he said.
Garba stressed that the situation in the country required all segments of society to join forces against the insurgents rather than the stronger intimidating the weaker elements in the society.
He said that the media should be allowed to discharge its responsibility to society without intimidation from any quarter, adding that the media remained committed to the unity, stability and progress of the country.
“I feel that at this point in time when the security operatives need the cooperation of the media to fight insurgency, an attack on the media from the same security operatives is unnecessary.
“Whatever the purported security report is, I don’t think that at this particular point in time there is any media organisation that will publish anything that will jeopardise the unity of Nigeria or bring about discontent in the society.
“Despite the criticism, I think the media has done creditably well to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and maintain societal harmony through its reportage, so I think this same media needs to be insulated from attacks that will undermine its efforts,’’ he said.
The NUJ leader appealed to the military to evolve better ways of arresting threatening reports or pieces of information other than confiscating the entire publications of media organisations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) had in a similar statement condemned the action of the security agents.
The NGE president, Mr Femi Adesina, had said that ‘’the media do not bear arms; rather, we bear information, which sheds light on darkness, no matter how seemingly impenetrable the darkness is.’’
‘’Let no one accuse the media of any flimsy and nebulous security breach, and hide under that umbrella to traumatise us.’’